Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Ag Revolution: 'Organic Fertilizer from Fish'

Quoting from the June 1 Posting:

"We recently learned that the Bell Aquaculture, the largest farmer of yellow perch (Perca flavescens), and a company committed to sustainable farming, has begun selling fish by-products as an organic fertilizer.

This started me thinking about the American Indians and their farming techniques. One myth is that Native Americans used fish as fertilizer to a significant extent. Squanto apparently showed the Pilgrims how to use fish for fertilizer in 1621, but there is no evidence that the Indians customarily followed this practice. Historians believe Native American farmers used crop rotation more often than fertilizing with organic matter.

It is now thought that Indian agriculturists used fire to control weeds and brush and to mineralize nutrients. Although burning depletes nitrogen and sulfur, it recycles organic-bound nutrients such as phosphorous, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. When the land was depleted, they moved on, as you would expect for a culture without property rights and with a small population relative to the available land.

Working to soil to maximize production, with fertilizer, crop rotation and crop selection becomes important when the farmer is committed to a specific parcel of land. So we were excited to hear that the byproducts from organic fish farming is now available from a company that is committed to sustainable farming."

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